ATS 34 Steel: The Ultimate Choice for High-Performance Knife

ATS 34 is a high-carbon stainless steel manufactured by Hitachi, a Japanese company. It’s a new version of the old Crucible 154CM Steel with advanced characteristics. Both steels contain a high amount of carbon and chromium, which contributes to their excellent corrosion and wear resistance. When Crucible stopped producing 154CM steel, Hitachi came up with a version of it that has similar characteristics and named it ATS 34. Just like 154CM, this steel also gets a huge response from all the knife manufacturers and users. The “ATS” in ATS 34 stands for “Allegheny Teledyne Super-Steel,” indicating a partnership between Allegheny Ludlum Corporation (now Allegheny Technologies) and Teledyne Corporation. The number “34” refers to the 34th custom stainless steel.

Chemical Composition:

  • 1.05% of Carbon (C): Improves hardness, resistance to wear and corrosion.
  • 14% of Chromium (Cr): Increases hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, and tensile strength.
  • 4% of Molybdenum (Mo): Increases hardness, hardenability, toughness, and strength.
  • 0.4% of Manganese (Mn): Increases brittleness, strength and hardenability.
  • 0.35% of Silicon(Si): Increases strength and heat resistance.
  • 0.03% of Phosphorus (P): Improves hardness, tensile strength, and machinability
  • 0.02% of Sulfur (S): Improves machinability.

Physical Properties:

Hardness:

As per the Rockwell hardness scale, the hardness of the steel is between 60-61 HRC, which is considered a high level of hardness. Thanks to its high amounts of carbon, molybdenum and chromium.

Toughness:

It is an unspoken rule that steel can either offer good hardness or toughness. But, here the situation is completely different. Despite of high hardness, it offers a decent level of toughness. So it can withstand heavy abuse without breaking, cracking, or chipping.

Corrosion Resistance:

It contains high amounts of chromium in its composition. So, it offers good corrosion resistance. Molybdenum also contributes to its corrosion resistance. However, it is not entirely corrosion-resistant. So it is important to take proper care of the knife made from this steel.

Wear Resistance:

Since it is high-carbon steel, it exhibits outstanding wear resistance. This means it can withstand abrasion and maintain its edge even under heavy use. Even the extra molybdenum also contributes to its wear resistance.

Edge Retention:

This steel also offers great edge retention due to its high hardness. For this reason, it can hold an edge for a long time and reduce the need for frequent sharpening. If you are looking for a knife with good edge retention, then you can choose it.

Ease Of Sharpening:

Due to its hardness, it is quite challenging to sharpen. But not impossible. With a good quality sharpening tool and skill, you can sharpen it.

Pros and Cons

Pros:
  • Excellent Edge Retention: This steel is known for its outstanding edge retention. So knives made from this steel don’t require frequent sharpening.
  • High Hardness: The hardness rating is around 60-61 HRC which contributes to the blade’s ability to maintain its sharpness and resist deformation during use.
  • Good Corrosion Resistance: It also offers good corrosion resistance that reduces the risk of rust and corrosion.
  • Wear Resistance: It exhibits good wear resistance that helps it to withstand abrasion and maintain its edge even under heavy use.
Cons:
  • Sharpening Difficulty: Due to its high hardness, knives made from this steel can be more challenging to sharpen compared to softer steels.
  • Prone to Chipping: While this steel offers good toughness, it is not as tough as some other knife steels.
  • Cost: As a premium stainless steel, it tends to be relatively more expensive compared to entry-level or lower-quality knife steels.

Applications and Uses of ATS 34:

ATS-34 steel is known for its application in the production of high-quality knives. However, its properties make it suitable for various specific uses within the knife industry. Here are some common applications and uses:
  • Folding Knives: Due to its excellent edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness, it is frequently used in the production of folding knives.
  • Fixed Blade Knives: This steel is also commonly used in fixed blade knives.
  • Cutting Tools: For its high hardness and excellent edge retention make it suitable for cutting tools.
  • Medical Instruments: The corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and edge retention of this steel make it applicable for surgical and medical instruments.
  • Custom Jewelry: Due to its aesthetic appeal and durability, it is also used in the creation of custom jewellery pieces.
  • Artistic Applications: It is widely used by artists and craftsmen to create decorative objects, sculptures, or ornamental pieces.

Comparisons to Other Knife Steels:

ATS 34 Vs 154CM:

Both steels are high-quality stainless steels commonly used in knife making. They also have similar compositions, as it is a modified version of 154CM. So both steels offer good edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness. However, ATS 34 has slightly better edge retention compared to 154CM. But it is not more challenging to sharpen.

ATS 34 vs 440C:

ATS 34 offers superior performance compared to 440C in terms of edge retention and corrosion resistance. As it has a higher carbon content and other alloying elements, it provides better wear resistance and overall toughness compared to 440C. On the other hand, 440C steel is easier to sharpen and relatively more budget-friendly.

ATS 34 vs S30V:

S30V is a newer and higher-performance stainless steel that offers significantly better edge retention, toughness, and corrosion resistance. So users who want extreme performance and longevity it would be wise to choose S30V. But when it comes to sharpening, ATS 34 is easier to sharpen compared to S30V.

ATS 34 vs VG10:

VG10 is a stainless steel often used in high-quality kitchen knives. It is known for its exceptional corrosion resistance. On the other hand, ATS 34 offers better edge retention and wear resistance compared to VG10. It is more commonly found in general-purpose and outdoor knives, while VG10 is popular in culinary knives.

ATS 34 vs D2:

ATS 34 offers better corrosion resistance and is easier to sharpen compared to D2. On the other hand, D2 steel offers exceptional wear resistance and toughness. It has better edge retention and wear resistance. So it is commonly used in heavy-duty tools and blades.

Is K390 Steel Better than ATS 34 Steel for High-Performance Knives?

When it comes to high-performance knives, many enthusiasts debate whether K390 steel or ATS 34 steel is the best choice. K390 steel offers exceptional wear resistance, making it ideal for heavy-duty tasks. On the other hand, ATS 34 steel boasts excellent edge retention and is easier to sharpen. Ultimately, the best steel for high-performance knives depends on the specific requirements and preferences of the user.

Is ATS 34 steel good for Knives?

Yes. It is considered a good steel for knives. As high-range knife steel, it offers excellent corrosion resistance, great edge retention, great wear resistance and decent toughness. So knives made from this steel are suitable for kitchens, hunting, camping, hiking, fishing, and so on. But If you need a knife steel that is easy to sharpen, then you will disappoint with this steel. Because it is quite hard to sharpen.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, ATS-34 steel is a good choice for knives due to its overall performance. So it has gained recognition and popularity among knife enthusiasts and professionals. It is widely used in knife making. If budget is not an issue for you, I think you should try this steel. I hope you will like its overall performance and versatility.

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